Refugees in southern Tel Aviv
Photo: Moti Kimhi

Migrants are not 'cancer'

Op-ed: Refugee urges Israeli leaders to curb heated rhetoric, grant migrants work permits

The wave of violence keeps growing, and we're very scared. I fear for my own life and also for the life of my nine-year-old daughter. Indeed, I have not yet felt the violence personally, but I feel that it’s getting closer to me. So close that it’s hard to breathe.


I fled Congo 18 years ago after the government tried to murder me. I entered Israel via Egypt legally, was granted refugee status, and ever since then I try to help the community.


Indeed, the refugee issue is not a simple one, and it’s hard to know who’s entitled to this status and who isn’t – but the government doesn’t even try to check. The State of Israel simply defines all of us as infiltrators and criminals.


Yet even in Europe some 80% of Eritreans – who comprise the majority of asylum seekers in Israel – were recognized as refugees. So how could it be that only around here they are all infiltrators?


Instead of helping, the politicians arrive at our area of residence and fan the flames of hatred. They call us a “cancer” and deliver speeches that sound as though they were taken from Europe in the 1940s.


I was insulted by this. I, who during the Second Lebanon War traveled to Haifa in order to volunteer and offer my help, have to hear politicians claiming that all of us carry diseases? I need to stand next to my young daughter and fear for my life?


Don’t inflame passions

I do not expect Israel to take in all the thousands of refugees who cross the border every year. We are dealing with too many people, and it’s clearly impossible to care for them all. However, there are ways to resolve this problem, and there is no need to express exaggerated zeal and inflame passions.


The government characterizes all of these people as criminals, but this is mostly because they are not allowed to work, and when people are hungry they commit crimes. Instead of resorting to impassioned zeal, we should grant all of them work permits, and that way the State would be able to monitor them and check who really is a refugee and who isn’t.


At the same time, the State will also gain from the taxes to be paid by refugees who work legally.


Article arranged by Telem Yahav, Yedioth Aharonoth



פרסום ראשון: 05.26.12, 15:28
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